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Five Ways Small to Mid-Sized Businesses Can Save on Inbound Freight

Unishippers Offers Tips for Controlling Inbound Freight Costs and Hassles
Image for Georgio Salas
(Franchise Clique)
Updated: Mar 6, 2013
Word count: 906 · Read time: 6 mins

Salt Lake City, UT – When businesses consider their shipping needs, most tend to primarily focus on outbound freight, overlooking that inbound freight is just as significant for business flow and can be just as financially taxing if not closely monitored. To save money and increase efficiency, small to mid-sized businesses can acquire inbound freight management services to better control all of their shipping, eliminating the potential for any surprises. Having full control of inbound freight not only helps businesses save money, but also provides tracking capabilities for shipments which allows them to plan ahead and be one step ahead of the game.

As the nation’s first and one of the largest small package and freight shipping resellers, Unishippers recognizes the importance and costliness of inbound logistics and offers services that can help reduce cost, confusion, paperwork, and time spent managing shipping orders.

“We understand that controlling both inbound and outbound freight are essential for a business to run smoothly and for maximum cost efficiencies to be realized,” said Kevin Lathrop, President of Unishippers. “Small businesses often overlook inbound freight as a cost center they can control and companies like Unishippers offer means to help improve efficiencies in this area.”

Lathrop offers the following tips for how small to mid-sized business owners can leverage inbound freight effectively.

1.      Organize current and future shipments by origin and destination. The best way to have full control and management over shipments is to create a working document that identifies exactly where all shipments are coming from and where they’re going. This can be as simple as an excel document with a state-to-state matrix, or something more complex based off of a nine-digit zip code matrix, depending on the specificities of a shipment.

2.      Consolidate whenever possible. By consolidating, you will receive better services and better rates. Rather than simply ordering something on a need-to-need basis, try to keep track of your orders and their frequency and arrange your orders by the volume of the product. Since some carriers offer better pricing for shipments than others based on weight, make sure to review your carrier rates prior to administering any orders.

3.      Create a Routing Guide. A routing guide is a set of operating rules for your business that includes such preferences as carrier selection, routing, packaging and labeling, claims, and credit.  The most valuable purpose of a routing guide is that it allows you to gain control over inbound shipments by getting vendors to comply with routing instructions. Web-based routing guides provide timely information, easy distribution, and widespread access. These documents can serve as a simple, cost-effective way to gain control, improve transportation management, and drive down direct and indirect costs associated with inbound transportation.

4.      Specify preferred carriers. In order to grasp full control of your costs for inbound freight, the person in charge of your business’s orders needs to make sure your carrier preferences are acknowledged by clients that are shipping products in. Whether it’s through a routing guide or not, specifying carrier partiality will leave you assured that you’re receiving the previously agreed upon negotiated rates, rather than standard higher rates.

5.      Distribute the guide and confirm. A routing guide is a great communications tool both within the office among those in charge of shipments, as well as between your business and vendors. Make sure to create a system where those in charge of shipments are referring to the most up-to-date routing form. Also, once the guide has been distributed to the appropriate vendors and carriers, make sure to confirm that every vendor is referring to the most recent edition of your routing guide when it is time to make a transportation delivery decision. For confirmation, you should mail each guide with a signed delivery form and a return receipt or fax acknowledgement form.

For Louisiana-Pacific (LP) Building Products, a client of Unishippers Green Bay for several years, using a third party shipping adviser has saved them about 30 percent on their inbound logistics as a leading manufacturer of high quality building materials.

“Clearly, the single most important benefit to LP is the sincere, whole hearted, relatively transparent business approach found at Unshippers,” said Jim MacDonald, Corporate Supply Manager for LP. “We’ve found that Unishippers provides a great system that captures all the necessary shipment data for inbound routing, which allows us to have a better understanding of the total shipping picture and helps facilitate our planning for future business operations.”

Working with a third party logistics firm, like Unishippers, rather than directly with a large carrier is the smartest way for small to mid-sized businesses to receive the best deals for their inbound freight. For more information on Unishippers’ services and rates, visit

About Unishippers

Founded in 1987, Unishippers has grown to the largest reseller of shipping services in the nation with more than 290 franchise locations. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, the Unishippers concept is simple – work with major carriers including UPS®, Saia®, Estes®, YRC Freight™ and UPS Freight® to handle the pickup, transport and delivery of customers’ shipments. All the while, local franchisees work to provide customers with service and support. By leveraging the combined shipping volume of all its customers, Unishippers gets deeply discounted rates from its carriers, resulting in lower shipping costs. Unishippers serves more than 50,000 small to mid-sized businesses, and has been recognized as a top franchise by Entrepreneur, Franchise Times and the Inc. 5000. For information on Unishippers, including information on franchising opportunities and price quotes, visit


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